Update 26 February: Ali Nilforushan’s details have been removed from the SafeSport suspension list. More to follow.
Olympic showjumper Ali Nilforushan has been named on the US Center for SafeSport suspension list.
The California-based trainer and event organiser, who represented Iran as an individual at the Sydney Games in 2000, has been temporarily suspended for “allegations of misconduct”, pending the outcome of a formal investigation and final decision.
In a statement on Saturday (20 February) Ali said he had been “humbled” by the “outpouring of support” he had received.
“A matter such as this is difficult to deal with but receiving the support of my fellow equestrians has kept me positive and I am sincerely grateful for the kindness that has been expressed to me,” he said.
“Unfortunately, all of this support is because today my name was released to the US Center for SafeSport sanction list. The allegations against me are not sexual in nature at all and I completely deny any wrongdoing in this matter. I intend to defend myself vigorously until my interim suspension is lifted.”
Ali said the suspension relates to an incident involving a conversation at a competition that lasted “less than five minutes”, with an individual “who appeared inebriated”.
“Fortunately three people, all of whom are willing to testify, witnessed the entire conversation and will confirm that the conversation has been falsely represented to SafeSport. I was not contacted, nor any of the witnesses, before this action was taken,” he said.
“I look forward to a swift resolution to this unfortunate situation and resuming my normal role as a trainer and horse show manager.”
Ali’s wife, US showjumper Francie Nilforushan, said in a statement she witnessed the conversation [he refers to].
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“To think our livelihoods and reputations, both of which we cherish and have built over many years, could be destroyed over false accusations is terrifying,” she said.
A spokesman for United States Equestrian (USEF) told H&H the organisation takes allegations of misconduct “very seriously” and will enforce the temporary suspension.
A spokesman for the US Center for SafeSport told H&H the organisation does not discuss matters, in order to protect the integrity of the process.
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